IBM Expands SOA Portfolio

A host of new products and services promise easier business process handling and WebSphere integration.

IBM has taken the next step—more of a leap, actually—to better enable users to respond to changing business processes through an SOA.

As part of a sweeping realignment of its software and related services portfolio—now geared more than ever toward enabling SOA (service-oriented architecture) implementations—IBM announced Tuesday a slew of new and enhanced software offerings from its WebSphere integration portfolio.

Along with that comes a tighter integration between WebSphere, Rational and Tivoli products, and new services to support SOA deployments.

The rationale for the realignment is based on market demands, according to Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive of IBMs Software Group.

"Medium and large companies run hundreds if not thousands of applications that they cant rip and replace. They need to leverage what they have and get applications to work as a service—which is where the whole idea of SOA comes into play.

"Its a statement of where businesses are trying to get," Mills said, during a conference call with members of the press.

The new offerings are based on four software fundamentals: modeling, assembling, deploying and managing a set of capabilities in an SOA. In terms of services, IBMs goal is to help users more quickly deploy and manage an SOA, and enable partners to get their customers on board with SOA.

In the modeling arena, IBM announced its WebSphere Business Modeler for SOAs, a tool that enables both business and IT users to model and design process flows before they are deployed.

For those wishing to assemble an SOA, IBM announced the WebSphere Integration Developer, an Eclipse-based application development tool thats used to build composite applications based on specific business processes.

In this same vein, IBM also introduced an upgraded version of Rational Application Developer software that helps developers script together services that are modeled with the Business Modeler.

/zimages/3/28571.gifIona joins Eclipse for an SOA project. Click here to read more.

To support easier SOA deployments, IBM announced a lightweight version of an enterprise service bus. The WebSphere ESB, which utilizes some components of IBMs WebSphere application server, is geared toward the integration of Web services-based applications. For more heavyweight ESB functionality, IBM showcased a new version of its WebSphere Message Broker that enables the integration of non-standard-based apps.

"It allows all the pieces of the infrastructure and architecture to play," said Robert LaBlanc, general manger for WebSphere in Armonk, N.Y.

IBM also announced its new WebSphere Process Server, which helps do the choreography around a set of business processes, data and events. It also enables users to manage processes during run-time.

To further manage processes, IBM upgraded its WebSphere Business Monitor, which helps monitor process performance and KPIs (key performance indicators) like transaction volume. Later in the month, IBM said, it plans to offer new management software under the Tivoli brand for managing composite applications.

To help users—both midsized and large companies—get started with SOA initiatives, IBM also announced a handful of new services. IBM Global Services has three new professional service capabilities.

The first is helping users comply with governance issues utilizing an SOA. The second involves new SOA Industry Teams that have been created around specific vertical industries like communications and financial services.

The third has to do with the Global Services SOA Foundation, which IBM plans to utilize to showcase its Common Delivery Platform, a repository of reusable components based on IBM and third-party applications.

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead more here about IBMs SOA initiative.

The components will be used to execute business processes—think claims processing or inventory management. The idea behind the CSDP repository is an interesting one: It will, according to IBM officials, collect data from a users infrastructure, integrate that data with software, best practices and intellectual property, and then use WebSphere to provide the resulting (completed) business process.

Global Services is also offering users a free service, called IBM Client Architectural Readiness Evaluation, that evaluates SOA readiness and governance maturity.

Partners are part of IBMs expansion plans around SOA too, with IBM offering even more capabilities for partners to utilize to get their customers up and running with a SOA.

"Weve got a set of tools to help build out SOA, and a lot of help and capabilities in terms of services, so [users] can go along the journey," Mills said. "Weve got support for the full gamut."

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